'Formulate SOP For Medical Termination Of Pregnancy Cases So Women Don't Have To Come To Court': Bombay HC To Maharashtra Govt

'Formulate SOP For Medical Termination Of Pregnancy Cases So Women Don't Have To Come To Court': Bombay HC To Maharashtra Govt

Once the SOP is put in place and implemented, it would ensure that no woman needs to move court seeking permission for termination of pregnancy if she is entitled to do so under the provisions of the MTP Act, the court noted.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Thursday, April 11, 2024, 09:26 PM IST
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Bombay High Court | File pic

Mumbai: The Maharashtra government should have a Standard Operations Procedure (SOP) for handling cases related to termination of pregnancy beyond 24 weeks, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court has observed. 

Once the SOP is put in place and implemented, it would ensure that no woman needs to move court seeking permission for termination of pregnancy if she is entitled to do so under the provisions of the MTP Act, the court noted. 

The amended Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act permits termination of pregnancy beyond 24 weeks in cases of severe abnormalities in the foetus. As per the amended provisions, the state has to constitute medical boards in each district which have the power and discretion to allow or deny termination of pregnancy beyond 24 weeks. 

The observations were made while hearing a petition by a woman seeking to terminate her 32-week pregnancy due to abnormalities in the foetus. Her plea claimed that the general hospital in Wardha informed her  about the abnormalities in the foetus during her 24th-week scan.

The court,while granting relief to the woman, expressed disappointment that instead of referring her to the medical board, the hospital asked her to approach the court to seek termination of the pregnancy.

The amended MTP provisions Permits termination of pregnancy exceeding 24 weeks if the medical boards thinks fit as and has diagnosed that the foetus has substantial abnormalities, the bench added. 

"Under the Scheme of the MTP Act as amended up-to-date, there is no such requirement of seeking any permission from the court by any woman who intends to get her pregnancy terminated even if the pregnancy is beyond 24 weeks," a bench of Chief Justice DK Upadhyaya and Justice Nitin Sambre said on April 5. 

The bench has the state Department of Public Health and the Department of Medical Education and Drugs to formulate an SOP which shall be issued to all government hospitals and medical colleges across Maharashtra.

"We expect that this Standard Operating Procedure, to be prepared by experts in the field, shall be formulated and notified by the State Government within a period of two months," the court said.

The HC has directed  the general hospital in Wardha to bear the expenses of the woman’s treatment and kept the matter for hearing on June 12. 

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